Baby milk powder shortage eased by increase in price and supplies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2008, 12:00am

A shortage of baby milk powder has been eased by higher prices and added supply, a business group says.

Lau Oi-kwok, chairman of the General Chamber of Pharmacy, said the situation had improved since April. He said the price increases had discouraged mainland shoppers from buying the powder in bulk.

'Back at the beginning of the year, a lot of mothers from the mainland and Hong Kong were shopping in a frenzy because they were worried about a shortage,' Mr Lau said.

'And among them quite a few mainland shoppers were trying to make a profit by selling the milk powder back on the mainland... The price increase has deterred such behaviour.'

But he expressed concern that retailers, especially pharmacies, still had to observe quotas when ordering supplies.

A spokeswoman for ParknShop said prices and supply of milk powder had remained stable since last month and that there had been no shortage of milk powder since then.

Regina Tam Chuk-ching, marketing director of Mead Johnson, which makes food for infants, said it had been closely monitoring the retail market in different districts.

She said 130,000 cans of milk powder were being sent by air in response to the increase in demand in the past few months. Part of the supply is already out on the market, and the remainder will arrive within the week.

Starting next month, Mead Johnson will also increase the monthly supply of milk powder to Hong Kong by 20 per cent compared with the same time last year.

'Efforts are being made in adjusting supplies in every district so that all mothers will be able to buy milk powder,' Ms Tam said.

She said she could not comment on the milk powder shortage on the mainland as the company used a different supply line there.

Mead Johnson raised the price of its milk powder by 13 per cent at the beginning of April and had no plan to launch another round of price increases, Ms Tam said.

Wyeth Hong Kong, another nutritional supplier, on the other hand, has raised prices by 4 per cent across its milk powder products line.

A spokeswoman said that the company was not considering adjusting prices or supply in the near future.